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Michael Egnor: Can animals “reason”? My challenge to Jeffrey Shallit

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Michael Egnor

Readers may remember anti-ID mathematician Jeffrey Shallit. Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor takes on his claim that animals can reason:

Jeffrey Shallit is an atheist mathematician who holds to the odd belief that animals, like humans, are capable of reason. It would seem that a highly intelligent man who makes his living by doing mathematics would understand that animals don’t, and can’t, do mathematics. But Dr. Shallit remains confused on this point, as he makes clear in his response to my recent post on that inability of animals to think abstractly or to reason (“An atheist argues against reason”)…

The widely-held philosophical understanding of reason is straightforward. Reason, which is a subset of abstract thought, entails the ability to think without particular objects in mind. That is, abstract thought is the ability to contemplate universals, rather than particulars. Shallit seems unfamiliar with this issue, which entails 3000 years of philosophical discussion and literature.
Michael Egnor, “Can animals “reason”? My challenge to Jeffrey Shallit” at Mind Matters News

Could Shallit be replaced by even the most talented and methodical of counting ravens?

Also by Michael Egnor University fires philosophy prof, hires chimpanzee to teach, research Michael Egnor: A light-hearted look at what would happen if we really thought that unreason is better than reason. University officials noted that, in light of Smith’s convincing argument that reason is a “mark of [human] inferiority” and that “animals and plants do not hesitate, the search committee interviewed several apes, three mules, and a tomato plant.

and

An Atheist Argues Against Reason. And thinks it is the reasonable thing to do (Michael Egnor)

Also: Philosopher argues, human reason is inferior to animal reactions Smith offers to resolve the problem of human exceptionality by dethroning reason He hopes that artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life (a “statistical near-certainty”) will help us “give up the idea of rationality as nature’s last remaining exception.”

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27 Replies to “Michael Egnor: Can animals “reason”? My challenge to Jeffrey Shallit

  1. 1
    Brother Brian says:

    Jeffrey Shallit is an atheist mathematician who holds to the odd belief that animals, like humans, are capable of reason. It would seem that a highly intelligent man who makes his living by doing mathematics would understand that animals don’t, and can’t, do mathematics.

    That has to be the biggest mischaracterization of what someone else has said that I have ever seen. Shallit was just talking about whether or not other animals exhibit some level of reasoning. Not that they exhibit human level reasoning. But I wouldn’t expect honesty from someone who once told me that all mass killings in the US were caused by Democrats.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    Methinks Dr. Egnor needs to get out for a nature walk. Chimps plan to attack monkeys and carry out that plan. Crows fashion artifacts to help them get food. I have watched birds check out different peanuts lying around, choosing the heaviest in the end. Squirrels, with a big almond already in mouth, will stop, drop it and pick up a bigger walnut because they know the difference.

    All of that takes reasoning.

    Who cares if they can do math? There are humans who can’t.

    Why do some humans think that other animals are complete rubes?

  3. 3
    Brother Brian says:

    Am I finding myself agreeing with ET? Please put me on suicide watch. 🙂

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Egnor does not claim that animals can not be very clever about concrete things… Egnor’s claim is that “Only man thinks abstractly”.

    Only man thinks abstractly; that is the ability to reason. No animal, no matter how clever, can think abstractly or reason. Animals can be very clever but their cleverness is always about concrete things—about the bone they are playing with, or about the stranger they are barking at. They don’t think about “play” or “threat” as abstract concepts.
    – Michael Egnor
    https://mindmatters.ai/2019/05/an-atheist-argues-against-reason/

    If ET, and his surprising newfound friend BB, disagree with Egnor then they can provide a concrete example of animals reasoning abstractly about immaterial concepts instead of being clever about physical things. i.e. They can satisfy Egnor’s challenge to Shallit,,,

    “So I have a challenge for Dr. Shallit, who claims that animals have the ability to reason and to think abstractly, without thinking about particular things. When an animal is “reasoning” about an abstract concept—number theory say, or financial markets—just what is in the animal’s mind, if not a thought of a physical object or a word? What do these animals who can “reason” reason about?”
    – Michael Egnor

    This challenge from Dr Egnor is not so easily brushed off by merely pointing to clever crows manipulating ‘tools’ or by pointing to whatever ‘clever’ animal behavior. Case in point, abstract human language itself is ‘species specific’ to humans,

    Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014
    Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,
    (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).)
    Casey Luskin added: “It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92141.html

    The Galilean Challenge – Noam Chomsky – April 2017
    Excerpt: The capacity for language is species specific, something shared by humans and unique to them. It is the most striking feature of this curious organism, and a foundation for its remarkable achievement,,,
    There has been considerable progress in understanding the nature of the internal language, but its free creative use remains a mystery. This should come as no surprise. In a recent review of far simpler cases of voluntary action, neuroscientists Emilio Bizzi and Robert Ajemian remark, in the case of something so simple as raising one’s arm, that
    “the detail of this complicated process, which critically involves coordinate and variable transformations from spatial movement goals to muscle activations, needs to be elaborated further. Phrased more fancifully, we have some idea as to the intricate design of the puppet and the puppet strings, but we lack insight into the mind of the puppeteer.”8
    The normal creative use of language is an even more dramatic example.,,,
    One fact appears to be well established. The faculty of language is a true species property, invariant among human groups, and unique to humans in its essential properties. It follows that there has been little or no evolution of the faculty since human groups separated from one another,,,
    There is little evidence of anything like human language, or symbolic behavior altogether, before the emergence of modern humans.,,,
    Our intricate knowledge of what even the simplest words mean is acquired virtually without experience. At peak periods of language acquisition, children acquire about a word an hour, often on one presentation.26 The rich meaning of even the most elementary words must be substantially innate.
    The evolutionary origin of such concepts is a complete mystery.,,,
    — Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at MIT.
    http://inference-review.com/ar.....-challenge

    The Siege of Paris – Robert Berwick & Noam Chomsky – March 2019
    Excerpt: Linguists told themselves many stories about the evolution of language, and so did evolutionary biologists; but stories, as Richard Lewontin rightly notes, are not hypotheses, a term that should be “reserved for assertions that can be tested.”4
    The human language faculty is a species-specific property, with no known group differences and little variation. There are no significant analogues or homologues to the human language faculty in other species.5,,,
    How far back does language go? There is no evidence of significant symbolic activity before the appearance of anatomically modern humans 200 thousand years ago (kya).22,,,
    There is no evidence that great apes, however sophisticated, have any of the crucial distinguishing features of language and ample evidence that they do not.48 Claims made in favor of their semantic powers, we might observe, are wrong. Recent research reveals that the semantic properties of even the simplest words are radically different from anything in animal symbolic systems.49,,,
    Why only us?,,, We were not, of course, the first to ask them. We echo in modern terms the Cartesian philosophers Antoine Arnauld and Claude Lancelot, seventeenth-century authors of the Port-Royal Grammar, for whom language with its infinite combinatorial capacity wrought from a finite inventory of sounds was uniquely human and the very foundation of thought. It is subtle enough to express all that we can conceive, down to the innermost and “diverse movements of our souls.”
    https://inference-review.com/article/the-siege-of-paris
    Robert Berwick is a Professor in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems at MIT.
    Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at MIT.

    Kept in Mind – Juan Uriagereka – March 2019
    Review of: Language in Our Brain: The Origins of a Uniquely Human Capacity
    by Angela Friederici
    Excerpt: Which part of our brain carries information forward in time? No one knows. For that matter, no one knows what a symbol is, or where symbolic interactions take place. The formal structures of linguistics and neurophysiology are disjoint, a point emphasized by Poeppel and David Embick in a widely cited study.2,,,
    No one has distinguished one thought from another by dissecting brains. Neuroimaging tells us only when some areas of the brain light up selectively. Brain wave frequencies may suggest that different kinds of thinking are occurring, but a suggestion is not an inference—even if there is a connection between certain areas of the brain and seeing, hearing, or processing words. Connections of this sort are not nothing, of course, but neither are they very much.,,,
    Some considerable distance remains between the observation that the brain is doing something and the claim that it is manipulating various linguistic representations. Friederici notes the lapse. “How information content is encoded and decoded,” she remarks, “in the sending and receiving brain areas is still an open issue—not only with respect to language, but also with respect to the neurophysiology of information processing in general.”5,,,
    Cognitive scientists cannot say how the mass or energy of the brain is related to the information it carries. Everyone expects that more activity in a given area means more information processing. No one has a clue whether it is more information or more articulated information, or more interconnected information, or whether, for that matter, the increased neuro-connectivity signifies something else entirely.,,,
    ,,, present-day observational technology does not seem capable of teasing apart these different components of syntax at work,,,,
    https://inference-review.com/article/kept-in-mind
    Juan Uriagereka is a linguist at the University of Maryland.

    Of course, it is the immaterial nature of information itself that forever stymies any materialistic hope of ever explaining how man ever acquired his unique ability to manipulate immaterial information. On the other hand, for the Christian Theist, this is evidence that we are indeed made in the image of God:

    Vlatko Vedral, who is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and is also a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics, states

    “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.”
    Vlatko Vedral – Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, and a Fellow of Wolfson College – a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics.

    It is hard to imagine a more convincing proof that we are made ‘in the image of God’, than finding that both the universe and life itself are ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis, and that we, of all the creatures on earth, uniquely possess an ability to understand and create information, and have come to ‘master the planet’ precisely because of our ability infuse information into material substrates.

    I guess a more convincing proof that we are made in the image of God could be if God Himself became a man, defeated death on a cross, and then rose from the dead to prove that He was God.
    And that is precisely the proof claimed within Christianity.

    Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Quantum Hologram – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TL4QOCiis

    Verse:

    Genesis 1:26
    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

  5. 5
    OldArmy94 says:

    I think Dr. Egnor is posing the question–why do humans, and only humans, produce works of art and admire them, while animals do not? Why do humans, and only humans, write books about theology and analyze and discuss them?

    There is a clear difference between the animal kingdom and mankind, and it is not one of merely degrees.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    Umm, why isn’t up to Dr. Egnor to make his case? Methinks Egnor is playing fast and loose with the word “reason”. Where is it in the definition of “reason” that one has to think abstractly in order to reason?

    Reasoning is defined as “the action of thinking about something in a logical, sensible way”- and animals do that, daily.

    http://www.psychologydiscussio.....types/2060

  7. 7
    ET says:

    OldArmy94:

    why do humans, and only humans, produce works of art and admire them, while animals do not?

    Ever watch courting rituals?

    Why do humans, and only humans, write books about theology and analyze and discuss them?

    Because the other animals don’t need to.

    There is a clear difference between the animal kingdom and mankind, and it is not one of merely degrees.

    Mankind is part of the animal kingdom.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    “Because the other animals don’t need to (write books).”

    Aha, so that is the reason they don’t write books. We just have to provide them a sufficient reason to write books. 🙂 And then waa laa, instant chimps who can write Shakespearean sonnets. But then again, something does not quite add up,,,

    “Monkeys Typing Shakespeare” Simulation Illustrates Combinatorial Inflation Problem – October 2011
    Excerpt: In other words, Darwinian evolution isn’t going to be able to produce fundamentally new protein folds. In fact, it probably wouldn’t even be able to produce a single 9-character string of nucleotides in DNA, if that string would not be retained by selection until all 9 nucleotides were in place.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....51561.html

    Darwin’s “bulldog” Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) allegedly conjectured that
    “…six monkeys, set to strum unintelligently on typewriters for millions of millions of years, would be bound in time to write all the books in the British Museum.1”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....01541.html

    Monkey Theory Proven Wrong:
    Excerpt: A group of faculty and students in the university’s media program left a computer in the monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo in southwest England, home to six Sulawesi crested macaques. Then, they waited. At first, said researcher Mike Phillips, “the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it. “Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard,” added Phillips, who runs the university’s Institute of Digital Arts and Technologies. Eventually, monkeys Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan produced five pages of text, composed primarily of the letter S. Later, the letters A, J, L and M crept in — not quite literature.
    http://www.arn.org/docs2/news/.....051103.htm

    Infinite monkey theorem
    Excerpt: “One computer program run by Dan Oliver of Scottsdale, Arizona, according to an article in The New Yorker, came up with a result on August 4, 2004: After the group had worked for 42,162,500,000 billion billion monkey-years, one of the “monkeys” typed, “VALENTINE. Cease toIdor:eFLP0FRjWK78aXzVOwm)-‘;8.t” The first 19 letters of this sequence can be found in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”. Other teams have reproduced 18 characters from “Timon of Athens”, 17 from “Troilus and Cressida”, and 16 from “Richard II”.[24]
    A website entitled The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator, launched on July 1, 2003, contained a Java applet that simulates a large population of monkeys typing randomly, with the stated intention of seeing how long it takes the virtual monkeys to produce a complete Shakespearean play from beginning to end. For example, it produced this partial line from Henry IV, Part 2, reporting that it took “2,737,850 million billion billion billion monkey-years” to reach 24 matching characters:

    RUMOUR. Open your ears; 9r”5j5&?OWTY Z0d…”
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem

    The story of the Monkey Shakespeare Simulator Project
    Excerpt: Starting with 100 virtual monkeys typing, and doubling the population every few days, it put together random strings of characters. It then checked them against the archived works of Shakespeare. Before it was scrapped, the site came up with 10^35 number of pages, all typed up. Any matches?
    Not many. It matched two words, “now faire,” and a partial name from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and three words and a comma, “Let fame, that,” from Love’s Labour’s Lost. The record, achieved suitably randomly at the beginning of the site’s run in 2004, was 23 characters long, including breaks and spaces.
    http://io9.com/5809583/the-sto.....or-project

    Can Monkeys Type Shakespeare? (Doing the math) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkEvzRMEP3s

    The probability of evolution (Creation Magazine LIVE! 5-12) (Huxley’s infinite Monkeys Typing Shakespeare argument is from the year 1860)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGqvNxbSug8

    Dilbert – infinite monkeys – cartoon
    http://dilbert.com/fast/2013-12-12/

  9. 9
    ET says:

    bornagain77:

    We just have to provide them a sufficient reason to write books.

    Good luck with that. 😉

    How much did Adam or Eve write down? What about their kids? Didn’t Noah document his journey? Talk about having sufficient reason for writing books. So please, stop the nonsense.

    We have observed that other animals routinely change their behavior to suit their needs. They learn, if they live. That alone requires the ability to reason.

  10. 10
    AaronS1978 says:

    Interesting fact we’re the only race that continuously get smarter and smarter and smarter through each advancement of our tools there are 1 million reasons why from recording history and our progress to our innovation

    Crows build one tool to pick a lock and never advance that tool and remains pretty much the same

    Surprisingly we are also the only species that seems to be able to adapt to our progression as a whole

    Not only do current generations figure out and understand the new technologies but new generations which are born into it have no problem understanding it (Except for millennials they don’t count) :0
    I’m kidding
    Which is why I never prescribed to the Ideology the technology can be like magic.

    These are just my opinions

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    ET in response to

    Why do humans, and only humans, write books about theology and analyze and discuss them?

    you stated,

    Because the other animals don’t need to.

    Implicit in that statement is the assumption that if animals found a need to write books they would.

    You did not provide any caveats to suggest otherwise. So the ‘nonsense’ is of your own making.

    Egnor’s challenge to Shalitt (and you) was to provide an example of animals thinking abstractly about immaterial objects, i.e. mathematics, financial markets. Having “animals routinely chang(ing) their behavior to suit their needs” is certainly not an example of animals thinking abstractly about immaterial objects. Whereas writing immaterial information onto material substrates would be a clear example of animals thinking abstractly about immaterial objects. It would be a clear example of animals thinking abstractly about immaterial information itself to be specific.

    You simply have no examples that you can provide that would refute Egnor’s challenge to Shalitt.

    Despite decades of research by leading evolutionary scientists, and as stated previously, “instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,”

    Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014
    Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,
    (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).)
    Casey Luskin added: “It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.”

    Moreover, this ability to infuse immaterial information into material substrates is not just some minor rhetorical point in a debate but is in fact the primary reason why humans have become ‘masters of the planet’.

    Although the ‘top-down’ infusion of immaterial information into material substrates, that allowed humans to become ‘masters of the planet’, was rather crude to begin with, (i.e. spears, arrows, and plows etc..), this top down infusion of immaterial information into material substrates has become much more impressive over the last half century or so.
    Specifically, the ‘top-down’ infusion of mathematical and/or logical information into material substrates lies at the very basis of many, if not all, of man’s most stunning, almost miraculous, technological advances in recent decades.

    Describing Nature With Math By Peter Tyson – Nov. 2011
    Excerpt: Mathematics underlies virtually all of our technology today. James Maxwell’s four equations summarizing electromagnetism led directly to radio and all other forms of telecommunication. E = mc2 led directly to nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The equations of quantum mechanics made possible everything from transistors and semiconductors to electron microscopy and magnetic resonance imaging.
    Indeed, many of the technologies you and I enjoy every day simply would not work without mathematics. When you do a Google search, you’re relying on 19th-century algebra, on which the search engine’s algorithms are based. When you watch a movie, you may well be seeing mountains and other natural features that, while appearing as real as rock, arise entirely from mathematical models. When you play your iPod, you’re hearing a mathematical recreation of music that is stored digitally; your cell phone does the same in real time.
    “When you listen to a mobile phone, you’re not actually hearing the voice of the person speaking,” Devlin told me. “You’re hearing a mathematical recreation of that voice. That voice is reduced to mathematics.”
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/p.....-math.html

    Recognising Top-Down Causation – George Ellis
    Excerpt: page 5: A: Causal Efficacy of Non Physical entities:
    Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored.
    The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts.
    Excerpt page 7: The assumption that causation is bottom up only is wrong in biology, in computers, and even in many cases in physics, ,,,
    The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.
    http://fqxi.org/data/essay-con.....s_2012.pdf

    In fact, humans have now, in the recent experimental realization of the Maxwell’s demon thought experiment, advanced to the point of being able to infuse immaterial information into material substrates at the atomic level.

    In the following 2010 experimental realization of Maxwell’s demon thought experiment, it was demonstrated that knowledge of a particle’s location and/or position turns information into energy.

    Maxwell’s demon demonstration turns information into energy – November 2010
    Excerpt: Scientists in Japan are the first to have succeeded in converting information into free energy in an experiment that verifies the “Maxwell demon” thought experiment devised in 1867.,,, In Maxwell’s thought experiment the demon creates a temperature difference simply from information about the gas molecule temperatures and without transferring any energy directly to them.,,, Until now, demonstrating the conversion of information to energy has been elusive, but University of Tokyo physicist Masaki Sano and colleagues have succeeded in demonstrating it in a nano-scale experiment. In a paper published in Nature Physics they describe how they coaxed a Brownian particle to travel upwards on a “spiral-staircase-like” potential energy created by an electric field solely on the basis of information on its location. As the particle traveled up the staircase it gained energy from moving to an area of higher potential, and the team was able to measure precisely how much energy had been converted from information.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....nergy.html

    And as the following 2010 article stated about the preceding experiment, “This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content,”

    Demonic device converts information to energy – 2010
    Excerpt: “This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content,” says Christopher Jarzynski, a statistical chemist at the University of Maryland in College Park. In 1997, Jarzynski formulated an equation to define the amount of energy that could theoretically be converted from a unit of information2; the work by Sano and his team has now confirmed this equation. “This tells us something new about how the laws of thermodynamics work on the microscopic scale,” says Jarzynski.
    http://www.scientificamerican......rts-inform

    In fact scientists have now “experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics.”

    Information engine operates with nearly perfect efficiency – Lisa Zyga – January 19, 2018
    Excerpt: Physicists have experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. Instead, the engine’s efficiency is bounded by a recently proposed generalized second law of thermodynamics, and it is the first information engine to approach this new bound.,,,
    https://phys.org/news/2018-01-efficiency.html

    To further illustrate just how ‘counter-intuitive’ this is, and as the following 2017 article states: James Clerk Maxwell (said), “The idea of dissipation of energy depends on the extent of our knowledge.”,,,
    quantum information theory,,, describes the spread of information through quantum systems.,,,
    Fifteen years ago, “we thought of entropy as a property of a thermodynamic system,” he said. “Now in (quantum) information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,,

    The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution – May 2017
    Excerpt: the 19th-century physicist James Clerk Maxwell put it, “The idea of dissipation of energy depends on the extent of our knowledge.”
    In recent years, a revolutionary understanding of thermodynamics has emerged that explains this subjectivity using quantum information theory — “a toddler among physical theories,” as del Rio and co-authors put it, that describes the spread of information through quantum systems. Just as thermodynamics initially grew out of trying to improve steam engines, today’s thermodynamicists are mulling over the workings of quantum machines. Shrinking technology — a single-ion engine and three-atom fridge were both experimentally realized for the first time within the past year — is forcing them to extend thermodynamics to the quantum realm, where notions like temperature and work lose their usual meanings, and the classical laws don’t necessarily apply.
    They’ve found new, quantum versions of the laws that scale up to the originals. Rewriting the theory from the bottom up has led experts to recast its basic concepts in terms of its subjective nature, and to unravel the deep and often surprising relationship between energy and information — the abstract 1s and 0s by which physical states are distinguished and knowledge is measured.,,,
    Renato Renner, a professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, described this as a radical shift in perspective. Fifteen years ago, “we thought of entropy as a property of a thermodynamic system,” he said. “Now in (quantum) information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,,
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/quantum-thermodynamics-revolution/

    Again to repeat that last sentence, “we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”.

    That statement is simply astonishing.

    The following article goes even further and states, “the researchers,,, show that when the bits to be deleted are quantum-mechanically entangled with the state of an observer, then the observer could even withdraw heat from the system while deleting the bits. Entanglement links the observer’s state to that of the computer in such a way that they know more about the memory than is possible in classical physics.,,,
    In measuring entropy, one should bear in mind that an object does not have a certain amount of entropy per se, instead an object’s entropy is always dependent on the observer.”

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 1, 2011
    Excerpt: Recent research by a team of physicists,,, describe,,, how the deletion of data, under certain conditions, can create a cooling effect instead of generating heat. The cooling effect appears when the strange quantum phenomenon of entanglement is invoked.,,,
    The new study revisits Landauer’s principle for cases when the values of the bits to be deleted may be known. When the memory content is known, it should be possible to delete the bits in such a manner that it is theoretically possible to re-create them. It has previously been shown that such reversible deletion would generate no heat. In the new paper, the researchers go a step further. They show that when the bits to be deleted are quantum-mechanically entangled with the state of an observer, then the observer could even withdraw heat from the system while deleting the bits. Entanglement links the observer’s state to that of the computer in such a way that they know more about the memory than is possible in classical physics.,,,
    In measuring entropy, one should bear in mind that an object does not have a certain amount of entropy per se, instead an object’s entropy is always dependent on the observer. Applied to the example of deleting data, this means that if two individuals delete data in a memory and one has more knowledge of this data, she perceives the memory to have lower entropy and can then delete the memory using less energy.,,,
    No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    If that doesn’t send chills down your ‘scientific’ spine you are not paying attention,,, to repeat, “Now in (quantum) information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,, and “In measuring entropy, one should bear in mind that an object does not have a certain amount of entropy per se, instead an object’s entropy is always dependent on the observer.”

    Moreover, to repeat, they have now shown that this immaterial information that is ‘always dependent on the observer’ has a quote unquote ‘thermodynamic content’. Furthermore, and have now even built an information engine, i.e. “a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics.”

    Again, these are not minor developments in man’s ability to infuse information into material substrates.

    More importantly, these developments go to the heart of the ID vs. Evolution debate and directly falsify Darwinian claims that immaterial information is merely ’emergent’ from some material basis.

    That is to say, immaterial information is now empirically shown to be its own distinct physical entity that, although it can interact with matter and energy, is completely separate from matter and energy. Moreover, this distinct physical entity of immaterial information is, via experimental realization of the Maxwell’s demon thought experiment, shown to be a product of the immaterial mind. Specifically, “Now in (quantum) information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,,

    The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution – May 2017
    Excerpt: “Now in (quantum) information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,,
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/quantum-thermodynamics-revolution/

    As should be needless to say, Immaterial information being shown to be its own distinct physical entity, and that this immaterial information is further shown to be the product of the immaterial mind of an ‘observer’ is certainly not a minor detail to be overlooked as far as the ID vs Darwinism debate is concerned,

    Thus in conclusion ET, although I usually greatly respect your contributions to UD, in this instance of you challenging Dr. Egnor on man’s unique ability to reason about abstract immaterial objects, you have, unfortunately, missed the boat big time.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    bornagain77:

    Implicit in that statement is the assumption that if animals found a need to write books they would.

    So Adam, Eve and all of their descendants for many, many generations couldn’t reason cuz they didn’t write things down- really?

    Egnor’s challenge is a strawman.

    We have observed that other animals routinely change their behavior to suit their needs. They learn, if they live. That alone requires the ability to reason.

    I understand why you ignore that.

    You and Egnor can change the definition of reasoning but it just demonstrates your desperation.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    ET, Egnor, through all the years I have been reading him on this topic, has been thoroughly consistent on what he means by abstract ‘reasoning”. He has not changed one iota in his definition of abstract reasoning. Your example of ‘animals changing their behavior’ certainly does not refute what his definition of abstract reasoning has consistently been.

    For example, from 2015,,,

    The Fundamental Difference Between Humans and Nonhuman Animals
    Michael Egnor – November 5, 2015
    Excerpt: Nonhuman animals have a mental capacity to perceive and respond to particulars, which are specific material objects such as other animals, food, obstacles, and predators.
    Human beings have mental powers that include the material mental powers of animals but in addition entail a profoundly different kind of thinking. Human beings think abstractly, and nonhuman animals do not. Human beings have the power to contemplate universals, which are concepts that have no material instantiation. Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts. Human beings are rational animals.
    Human rationality is not merely a highly evolved kind of animal perception. Human rationality is qualitatively different — ontologically different — from animal perception. Human rationality is different because it is immaterial. Contemplation of universals cannot have material instantiation, because universals themselves are not material and cannot be instantiated in matter.,,,
    It is in our ability to think abstractly that we differ from apes. It is a radical difference — an immeasurable qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference.
    We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses. Our difference is a metaphysical chasm.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/11/the_fundamental_2/

    And then this article from last year.

    Naturalism and Self-Refutation – Michael Egnor – January 31, 2018
    Excerpt: For Clark, thoughts merely appear out of matter, which has no properties, by the laws of physics, for generating thought. For Clark to assert that naturalistic matter as described by physics gives rise to the mind, without immateriality of any sort, is merely to assert magic.
    Furthermore, the very framework of Clark’s argument — logic — is neither material nor natural. Logic, after all, doesn’t exist “in the space-time continuum” and isn’t described by physics. What is the location of modus ponens? How much does Gödel’s incompleteness theorem weigh? What is the physics of non-contradiction? How many millimeters long is Clark’s argument for naturalism? Ironically the very logic that Clark employs to argue for naturalism is outside of any naturalistic frame.
    The strength of Clark’s defense of naturalism is that it is an attempt to present naturalism’s tenets clearly and logically. That is its weakness as well, because it exposes naturalism to scrutiny, and naturalism cannot withstand even minimal scrutiny. Even to define naturalism is to refute it.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/01/naturalism-and-self-refutation/

  14. 14
    ET says:

    Planning requires abstract reasoning. Chimps plan. Changing behaviors to get that food, survive and reproduce also requires abstract reasoning. And both fit the standard and accepted definitions of “reasoning”.

    Reasoning is defined as “the action of thinking about something in a logical, sensible way”- and animals do that, daily.

    So the strawman is clear.

    Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts.

    Again, I bring up Adam, Eve, Cain and many generations. I will also say that neither you nor Dr. Egnor knows what other animals do and do not think about.

    Maybe we are the stupid ones for being unable to correctly communicate with the other animals to see what they actually think.

  15. 15
    ET says:

    And, in essence, what you and Dr. Egnor are saying is that God is incapable of producing other animals that can reason or perhaps just chose not to, eh?

    The epitome of arrogance. And from people who are supposed to be most humble…

  16. 16
    ET says:

    Reason, which is a subset of abstract thought, entails the ability to think without particular objects in mind. That is, abstract thought is the ability to contemplate universals, rather than particulars.

    Planning 101. First you devise a concept using universals- “We need chimps in some defensive mode for blocking the escape of some prey.” Then when the plan is carried out the particulars come into play.

    Elephants plan. Cetaceans plan. If ants don’t then they are pretty lucky.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Well ET, you may bring up “Adam, Eve, Cain and many generations” and I could readily counter with their ability to speak spoken words to each other and to God from the outset, (something animals, despite much hype, definitely do not do), but regardless, you and/or Shalitt, nor your newfound friend BB, have provided any example of an animal thinking and/or reasoning about abstract immaterial objects. Sure you can postulate about the inner state, i.e. qualia, of an animal’s mind all you want, but until you can produce concrete evidence, such as say writing and/or animals speaking coherent sentences to one another, i.e. a concrete example of animals reasoning abstractly, then you are merely seeing faces in the clouds through your imaginary anthropomorphization of animals:

    anthropomorphize: When you talk about a thing or animal as if it were human, you’re anthropomorphizing it. The Easter Bunny is an anthropomorphized rabbit.
    – anthropomorphize – Dictionary

    Supplemental notes:

    A scientist looks again at Project Nim – Trying to teach Chimps to talk fails
    Excerpt: “The language didn’t materialize. A human baby starts out mostly imitating, then begins to string words together. Nim didn’t learn. His three-sign combinations – such as ‘eat me eat’ or ‘play me Nim’ – were redundant. He imitated signs to get rewards. I published the negative results in 1979 in the journal Science, which had a chilling effect on the field.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....pabilities

    Young Children Have Grammar and Chimpanzees Don’t – Apr. 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “When you compare what children should say if they follow grammar against what children do say, you find it to almost indistinguishable,” Yang said. “If you simulate the expected diversity when a child is only repeating what adults say, it produces a diversity much lower than what children actually say.”
    As a comparison, Yang applied the same predictive models to the set of Nim Chimpsky’s signed phrases, the only data set of spontaneous animal language usage publicly available. He found further evidence for what many scientists, including Nim’s own trainers, have contended about Nim: that the sequences of signs Nim put together did not follow from rules like those in human language.
    Nim’s signs show significantly lower diversity than what is expected under a systematic grammar and were similar to the level expected with memorization. This suggests that true language learning is — so far — a uniquely human trait, and that it is present very early in development.
    “The idea that children are only imitating adults’ language is very intuitive, so it’s seen a revival over the last few years,” Yang said. “But this is strong statistical evidence in favor of the idea that children actually know a lot about abstract grammar from an early age.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....131327.htm

    Adventures in Experimenting On Toddlers By Alison Gopnik Dec. 13, 2013
    Excerpt: But this simple problem actually requires some very abstract thinking. It’s not that any particular block makes the machine go. It’s the fact that the blocks are the same rather than different. Other animals have a very hard time understanding this. Chimpanzees can get hundreds of examples and still not get it, even with delicious bananas as a reward.
    The conventional wisdom has been that young children also can’t learn this kind of abstract logical principle. Scientists like Jean Piaget believed that young children’s thinking was concrete and superficial. And in earlier studies, preschoolers couldn’t solve this sort of “same/different” problem.
    But in those studies, researchers asked children to say what they thought about pictures of objects. Children often look much smarter when you watch what they do instead of relying on what they say.
    We did the experiment I just described with 18-to-24-month-olds. And they got it right, with just two examples. The secret was showing them real blocks on a real machine and asking them to use the blocks to make the machine go.,,,
    Now we are looking at another weird result. Although the 4-year-olds did well on the easier sequential task, in a study we’re still working on, they actually seem to be doing worse than the babies on the harder simultaneous one. So there’s a new problem for us to solve.
    http://online.wsj.com/news/art.....3386009168

    Babies have logical reasoning before age one
    Deductive problem solving was previously thought to be beyond the reach of infants – November 18, 2015
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151118131813.htm

    Darwin’s mistake: explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds. – 2008
    Excerpt: Over the last quarter century, the dominant tendency in comparative cognitive psychology has been to emphasize the similarities between human and nonhuman minds and to downplay the differences as “one of degree and not of kind” (Darwin 1871).,,, To wit, there is a significant discontinuity in the degree to which human and nonhuman animals are able to approximate the higher-order, systematic, relational capabilities of a physical symbol system (PSS) (Newell 1980). We show that this symbolic-relational discontinuity pervades nearly every domain of cognition and runs much deeper than even the spectacular scaffolding provided by language or culture alone can explain,,,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18479531

    Evolution of the Genus Homo – Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Ian Tattersall, Jeffery H. Schwartz, May 2009
    Excerpt: Human beings alone, it seems, mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities. When exactly Homo sapiens acquired this unusual ability is the subject of debate.”
    http://www.annualreviews.org/d.....208.100202

    Dolphins Recorded Having a ‘Conversation?’ Not So Fast.
    A researcher in Russia claims to have evidence that dolphins can use words and sentences, but marine mammal experts remain unconvinced.
    BY JASON BITTEL – SEPTEMBER 15, 2016
    Excerpt: Denise Herzing, research director for the Wild Dolphin Project, has spent more than 30 years trying to understand dolphin communication, most recently by developing pattern recognition algorithms to identify reoccurring sounds and structures that could be the basis for language. (Read more about Herzing’s work decoding dolphin communication patterns.)
    “We know dolphins are capable of understanding artificially created language, both acoustic and gestural, and abstract concepts,” says Herzing. “However, we simply do not have the data to suggest that they use words or labels in the wild.”
    And the fact that the dolphins in Ryabov’s experiment did not seem to interrupt each other? Herzing says we’ve known dolphins can exchange sound back and forth without overlap since 1979.
    “Many, many animals across the animal kingdom will avoid signal masking and thus time their vocalizations accordingly,” says Stephanie King, a research fellow at the University of Western Australia and member of the Shark Bay Dolphin Research Alliance.
    “This by no means should be compared to human language,” says King.
    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/dolphins-conversation-explained-words-sentences-language-animals/

    And please note ET, all of the preceding references of the sharp discontinuity between animal and human minds are from people who believe Darwinian evolution to be true. i.e. It is not as if they have a bias to see a discontinuity between animal and human minds. In fact, their bias would be to see continuity where none existed, such as you are currently doing. But alas, they, despite their Darwinian bias, find a very large chasm between the way humans think and the way animals think.

    GENESIS 2:19
    And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

  18. 18
    Brother Brian says:

    AaronS1978

    Interesting fact we’re the only race that continuously get smarter and smarter and smarter through each advancement of our tools there are 1 million reasons why from recording history and our progress to our innovation.

    We definitely accumulate knowledge in a way that we can retrieve it, but I think it would be false to say that we get “smarter”. Possibly our intelligence level has increased over several thousand generations, but I suspect if you used your flux capacitor to go back in time 100,000 years and brought back a baby to our time, it would perform well within the intellectual norms of our current population.

  19. 19
    AaronS1978 says:

    Actually good sir that was my point, I went back and read it so I guess saying smarter and smarter and smarter wasn’t really the correct way to put it. But the point that I was trying to make is our tech increases yet we have no problem with newer generations understanding it. In fact a lot of her mindset has a lot to do with that even when we encounter things that don’t make sense we pick at it until we do understand it.

    Now I know I have not perfected a flux capacitor yet I’ve been trying for months I sent my cat back I don’t know what came back after that, it had fur on it. There were certainly a lot more teeth and there should’ve been and it kind it didn’t look like Peanut anymore.

    I tried to send back my sand fish slinky, But what also came back was a lot larger than a Egyptian sand fish and I had a lot more teeth as well.

    So I’m still working on it

  20. 20
    Brother Brian says:

    Can I borrow your time machine? I played hockey in my youth and have the lack of teeth to prove it.

  21. 21
    drc466 says:

    ET,
    I think in this instance, Egnor and BA77 have the better of the argument, and I’ll give both a short and long answer for why.
    Short: Why do humans fly south for the winter? To get warm. Why do birds fly south for the winter? Survival instinct coded in the genes.

    Longer answer(s):
    1) Your disagreement is arguably just an instance of “victory via semantics”, which is fairly common for evo-ID disagreements:
    a) “If we use my opponent’s definition of reason (e.g. abstract thinking), they might be correct.”
    b) “If we use my definition of reason (any logical plan of activity), I am correct.”
    c) “Therefore, I will prove that my definition for reason is “more correct”, and therefore I win.”
    The problem is that this doesn’t refute the opponent’s true position, which in this case is that animals don’t use reason, meaning using abstract thought, as opposed to “planning a series of actions”. It’s basically a variant of a strawman – the straw man is claiming that Egnor states animals don’t perform what appear to be planned behaviors, when he is actually referring to their thought processes – what is going on in their heads.
    2) Even if we accept your definition of “reason”, I still think you are on shaky ground. There are (at least) three types of behavior – instinctual/genetic, learned/trained, and reasoned/logical. Since we tend to anthropomorphize animal behavior, we like to assign this third type to all sorts of animals. Why do crows use tools? Why do otters use rocks to open clams? Why do chimps fling poo? Because (we assume) they “planned” it – they had a clam, they saw a rock, and thought, “aha! I can bang on this clam with the hard rock, and the clam will crack!”.
    However, as with Pavlov’s dogs, there is very good reason (pun intended) to believe that no such thought process takes place. Many instinctual behaviors are easy to recognize (e.g. fly south for winter, hibernate in the cold, lick wounds, etc.). And trained behaviors as well (dogs don’t, as a rule, “sit”, “stay”, “heel” on command absent training). So how can we tell if tool use, and putting rocks in jugs of water, and defending the colony, and forming floating mats during floods, etc., qualify as “reasoned” or “instinctual”?
    I would suggest a good measure is simply this – do all the animals of the species tend to perform the same (limited) set of behaviors when presented with the same environmental stimuli? Do otters tend to take a long time to puzzle out cracking clams with rocks, and try other solutions first, before reaching their final solution? Or do they all pretty much know what to do right away and have the same general set of possible solutions to work from all the time? Same with chimps, crows, elephants, etc.? Is an animal a true rational creature like a human, or do they simply have an astonishing variety of pre-programmed responses to certain environmental stimuli that look like reason?
    Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, and there isn’t a pet owner in the world who won’t swear to you that their precious Fluffy or Spot is smarter than most humans, but a lot of experts have put a lot of time and effort into trying to prove that some forms of animal behavior can’t be classified as either instinctual or learned. Most say no. I have yet to read a convincing experiment showing animal “reason” – logical analysis leading to a plan of action unique to the individual. Animals are more like AI, or a Chinese Room experiment, than rational humans.
    Think of it like you think of language – do animals “talk”? Again with the anthropomorphizing, the answer would be “yes” – whale song, dolphin noises, chimp screams, bird chirps, wolf howls, etc., etc. But we know it is instinctual, not really language – animals don’t “teach” language, they don’t learn and create and build on to their existing noises, etc. Same with “reasoned” behaviors – instinct, not logic. Genetics, not reason.

  22. 22
    Brother Brian says:

    Drc466,

    Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, and there isn’t a pet owner in the world who won’t swear to you that their precious Fluffy or Spot is smarter than most humans, but a lot of experts have put a lot of time and effort into trying to prove that some forms of animal behavior can’t be classified as either instinctual or learned.

    As much as it pains me to do so, I have to agree with ET. Doesn’t learned behavior require some level of reasoning? My cat has “learned” that he is not to be on the table or counter. And when we are in the house, he never attempts to do so. But we are always wiping cat hairs of the table and counter. Does this behavior not require some level of reasoning?

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    Brother Brian as a dogmatic atheist who has a new found love affair with ET, and who holds the reductive materialism of Darwinian evolution to be true, can you please tell me how reasoning of any sort can be grounded within the premises of your reductive materialistic worldview?

    Exactly how are logic and reasoning to be grounded in a worldview that insists everything arose through chaos without any rhyme or reason? To presuppose that the universe can be understood through logic and reason is to presuppose that there is logic and reasoning behind the universe to be understood in the first place. The atheistic/materialistic worldview is completely incoherent as to providing any rational foundation for practicing science in the first place in that it presupposes that chaos instead of logic or reason is behind the universe.

    Remembering Arthur Balfour, Friend of Science and Friendly Opponent to Atheist Bertrand Russell
    Mike Keas – November 20, 2014
    Excerpt: Balfour understood the anti-rational implications of naturalism (and Darwinism). He argued that the assumptions of naturalism (including in its Darwinian manifestation) lead to conclusions about the origin of rationality that undermine rationality itself, and thus undermine any alleged scientific support for naturalism. In contrast, theism — including the idea that humans bear the divine image — grounds human rationality quite well.
    The following is from Balfour’s The Foundations of Belief, pages 279-283.
    “Consider the following propositions, selected from the naturalistic creed or deduced from it:
    (i.) My beliefs, insofar as they are the result of reasoning at all, are founded on premises produced in the last resort by the collision of atoms.
    (ii.) Atoms, having no prejudices in favour of truth, are as likely to turn out wrong premises as right ones; nay, more likely, inasmuch as truth is single and error manifold.
    (iii.) My premises, therefore, in the first place, and my conclusions in the second, are certainly untrustworthy, and probably false. Their falsity, moreover, is of a kind which cannot be remedied; since any attempt to correct it must start from premises not suffering under the same defect. But no such premises exist.
    (iv.) Therefore, again, my opinion about the original causes which produced my premises, as it is an inference from them, partakes of their weakness; so that I cannot either securely doubt my own certainties or be certain about my own doubts.
    This is scepticism indeed; scepticism which is forced by its own inner nature to be sceptical even about itself;,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....91361.html

    “Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity, p. 32

    “If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.”
    – William J Murray

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    (1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain (determinism).
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    THE ARGUMENT FROM REASON – John M. DePoe
    Excerpt: (CS) Lewis closes the third chapter of Miracles with this conclusion:
    Reason is given before Nature and on reason our concept of Nature depends. Our acts of inference are prior to our picture of Nature almost as the telephone is prior to the friend’s voice we hear by it. When we try to fit these acts into the picture of nature we fail. The item which we put into that picture and label “Reason” always turns out to be somehow different from the reason we ourselves are enjoying and exercising as we put it in. [. . .] But the imagined thinking which we put into the picture depends—because our whole idea of Nature depends—on thinking we actually doing, not vice versa. This is the prime reality, on which the attribution of reality to anything else rests. If it won’t fit into Nature, we can’t help it. We will certainly not, on that account, give it up. If we do, we should be giving up Nature too.
    http://www.reasonsforgod.org/w.....Reason.pdf

    May 2019 – recent advances in quantum mechanics have now empirically validated C.S. Lewis’s philosophical claim that ‘reason must be absolute’ and that “Reason (must be) given before Nature”.
    https://uncommondescent.com/human-evolution/philosopher-eliminates-human-exceptionality-by-ejecting-reason/#comment-677540

    “Atheists can give no reason why they should value reason, and Christians can show how anyone who believes in reason must also believe in God.”
    Cogito; Ergo Deus Est by Charles Edward White
    Philosophy Still Lives Because God Isn’t Dead
    https://salvomag.com/article/salvo39/cogito-ergo-deus-est?

    As G.K. Chesterton explained: “Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, “Why should anything go right; even observation and deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?” The young sceptic says, “I have a right to think for myself.” But the old sceptic, the complete sceptic, says, “I have no right to think for myself. I have no right to think at all.”

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter”.
    J. B. S. Haldane [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.

    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”
    – Charles Darwin – Letter To William Graham – July 3, 1881

    Thus Brother Brian, although you may have a new found love affair with ET, (he is a lovable guy by the way), because he falsely believes abstract reasoning about immaterial objects is present in animals as well as in humans, the fact of the matter is that at least ET’s theistic worldview provides a coherent foundation for reasoning and does not collapse into catastrophic epistemological failure like you materialistic worldview does.

    In short, ET’s position that abstract reasoning is present in animals (though false), and since abstract reasoning itself must ultimately be based on Theism, and regardless of whether animals reason abstractly like humans or not, is still of no help to your atheistic materialism.,,, I hope this does not ruin your new found love affair with ET 🙂

    Isaiah 1:18
    “Come now, and let us reason together,”,,,

  24. 24
    AaronS1978 says:

    @drc466
    I actually truly agree with you, you did a great job hashing that out. Including making A distinction between instinctual behavior, learned behavior, and reason based.

    The most important thing that you did point out though was a lot of this argument is based on whose definition of reason is correct. This does seem more about semantics than anything.

  25. 25
    Brother Brian says:

    BA77

    Brother Brian as a dogmatic atheist who has a new found love affair with ET, and who holds the reductive materialism of Darwinian evolution to be true, can you please tell me how reasoning of any sort can be grounded within the premises of your reductive materialistic worldview?

    What would be the point? You wouldn’t listen anyway.

  26. 26
    Brother Brian says:

    AaronS1978

    This does seem more about semantics than anything.

    I think you are correct in this. Some limit their definition of reason to the reasoning capabilities of humans, completely ignoring the possibility (if not fact) that reasoning is measured on a scale.

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    BB: “What would be the point? You wouldn’t listen anyway.”

    Says the man who dogmatically believes in a theory in spite of the fact that it has been falsified by numerous lines of evidence.

    The main reason that Darwinian evolution fails to qualify as a science is that, although Darwinian evolution has been falsified by numerous lines of evidence, Darwinists themselves simply refuse to accept any reasonable falsification criteria of their theory:

    Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rzw0JkuKuQ

    As Karl Popper stated, “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    Karl Popper – The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition), Routledge

    Here are a few falsifications of Darwinian evolution that Darwinists simply refuse to ever accept as falsifications of their theory:

    Darwin’s theory holds mutations to the genome to be random. The vast majority of mutations to the genome are not random but are found to be ‘directed’.

    Darwin’s theory holds that Natural Selection is the ‘designer substitute’ that produces the ‘appearance’ and/or illusion of design. Natural Selection, especially for multicellular organisms, is found to grossly inadequate as the ‘designer substitute.

    Darwin’s theory holds that mutations to DNA will eventually change the basic biological form of any given species into a new form of a brand new species. Yet, biological form is found to be irreducible to mutations to DNA, nor is biological form reducible to any other material particulars in biology one may wish to invoke.

    Darwin’s theory holds there to be an extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever.

    Charles Darwin himself held that the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Yet, from the Cambrian Explosion onward, the fossil record is consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record(disparity), then rapid diversity within that group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. Moreover, Fossils are found in the “wrong place” all the time (either too early, or too late).

    Darwin’s theory, due to the randomness postulate, holds that patterns will not repeat themselves in supposedly widely divergent species. Yet thousands of instances of what is ironically called ‘convergent evolution’, on both the morphological and genetic level, falsifies the Darwinian belief that patterns will not repeat themselves in widely divergent species.

    Charles Darwin himself stated that “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Yet as Doug Axe pointed out, “Basically every gene and every new protein fold, there is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in that gradualistic way. It’s all a mirage. None of it happens that way.”

    Charles Darwin himself stated that “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.” Yet as Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig pointed out, “in thousands of plant species often entirely new organs have been formed for the exclusive good of more than 132,930 other species, these ‘ugly facts’ have annihilated Darwin’s theory as well as the modern versions of it.”

    Charles Darwin himself stated that, ““The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God.”. Yet ‘our conscious selves’ are certainly not explainable by ‘chance’ (nor is consciousness explainable by any possible reductive materialistic explanation in general), i.e. ‘the hard problem of consciousness’.

    Besides the mathematics of probability consistently showing that Darwinian evolution is impossible, the mathematics of population genetics itself has now shown Darwinian evolution to be impossible. Moreover, ‘immaterial’ mathematics itself, which undergirds all of science, engineering and technology, is held by most mathematicians to exist in some timeless, unchanging, immaterial, Platonic realm. Yet, the reductive materialism that Darwinian theory is based upon denies the existence of the immaterial realm that mathematics exists in. i.e. Darwinian evolution actually denies the objective reality of the one thing, i.e. mathematics, that it most needs in order to be considered scientific in the first place!

    Donald Hoffman has, via population genetics, shown that if Darwin’s materialistic theory were true then all our observations of reality would be illusory. Yet the scientific method itself is based on reliable observation. Moreover, Quantum Mechanics itself has now shown that conscious observation must come before material reality, i.e. falsification of ‘realism’ proves that our conscious observations are reliable!.

    The reductive materialism that undergirds Darwinian thought holds that immaterial information is merely ’emergent’ from a material basis. Yet immaterial Information, via experimental realization of the “Maxwell’s Demon” thought experiment, is now found to be its own distinctive physical entity that, although it can interact in a ‘top down’ manner with matter and energy, is separate from matter and energy.

    Darwinists hold that Darwin’s theory is true. Yet ‘Truth’ itself is an abstract property of an immaterial mind that is irreducible to the reductive materialistic explanations of Darwinian evolution. i.e. Assuming reductive materialism and/or Naturalism as the starting philosophical position of science actually precludes ‘the truth’ from ever being reached by science!

    Darwinist’s, due to their underlying naturalistic philosophy, insist that teleology (i.e. goal directed purpose) does not exist. Yet it is impossible for Biologists to do biological research without constantly invoking words that directly imply teleology. i.e. The very words that Biologists themselves use when they are doing their research falsifies Darwinian evolution.

    On top of all that, all of science, every nook and cranny of it, is based on intelligent design and is certainly not based on methodological naturalism as is presupposed by Darwinists.
    From the essential Christian presuppositions that undergird the founding of modern science, (i.e. that the universe is rational and that the minds of men, being made in the ‘image of God’, can dare understand that rationality), to the intelligent design of the scientific instruments and experiments themselves, to the logical and mathematical analysis of experimental results, from top to bottom science itself is certainly not ‘natural’.
    Not one scientific instrument would ever exist if men did not first intelligently design that scientific instrument. Not one test tube, microscope, telescope, spectroscope, or etc.. etc.., was ever just found laying around on a beach somewhere which was ‘naturally’ constructed by nature. Not one experimental result would ever be rationally analysed since there would be no immaterial minds to rationally analyze the immaterial mathematics that lay behind the intelligently designed experiments in the first place.

    In fact, (as I have pointed out several times now), assuming Naturalism instead of Theism as the worldview on which all of science is based leads to the catastrophic epistemological failure of science itself.

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft).
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    – Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – video – 39:45 minute mark
    https://youtu.be/8rzw0JkuKuQ?t=2387

    Thus, although the Darwinist may firmly believes he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for methodological naturalism), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that Darwinists/Atheists are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to.

    It would be hard to fathom a worldview more antagonistic to modern science than Atheistic materialism and/or methodological naturalism have turned out to be.

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    Bonus verse for BB

    Matthew 13
    “Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

    14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

    “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
    15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
    Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

    16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

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